Advent is much celebrated in Salzburg. Your family will delight in roaming the world-renowned Christmas markets at Cathedral and Residenz Squares. The aroma of mulled wine and hot toasted almonds is impossible to resist as you listen to local choirs sing in front of the cathedral. Christmas events run November 21-January 5.
Before you begin your sightseeing, consider buying a Salzburg Card. The card (similar to the London Pass) provides free admission to many Salzburg museums, free use of the Fortress funicular, the Untersberg cableway and public buses, as well as discounts to many cultural events. A 48-hour pass costs £26 per adult and £13 per child.
If you’re short on time and unable to take the funicular or cableway for a bird’s eye view of Salzburg, opt for the express lift to Mönchsberg above Old Town. With a blanket of fresh snow, it’s the perfect spot for a family photo.
Take the Sound of Music tour and see where all your favourite movie scenes were filmed – Maria and the children singing Do-Re-Mi in Mirabell Gardens, the wedding of Maria and Captain von Trapp at the church in Mondsee and the couple’s first kiss in the gazebo at Hellbrunn Palace. Feel free to sing along to the soundtrack on the bus; everyone does!
See a performance at the Salzburg Marionette Theatre. For little ones with short attention spans the one-hour afternoon program will be ideal. Discounted tickets are available with the Salzburg Card, too.
Stroll Salzburg’s most famous shopping lane, Getreidegasse, with its holiday lights, wrought iron signs and secret passageways. With the Salzburg Card, visit Mozart’s birthplace, Mozart Gerburtshaus, for free; otherwise just catch a glimpse from the outside. And don’t miss sampling Mozartkugel, delicious chocolate and pistachio marzipan balls.
Take a 20-minute train or 40-minute bus ride to the ancient town of Hallein, home of the salt mines. Families (kids aged four and above) pull on miners’ suits and board a small train. Kids will love the slides that take you even deeper into the mine, and the boat ride on an underground lake. Make sure you all dress warmly to this activity.
Before you fly home, stop at Red Bull Hangar-7 near the airport. Owned by Red Bull founder Dietrich Mateschitz, the hangar houses a fantastic collection of historical airplanes, helicopters and Formula One racing cars. And it’s free!
Accommodation: Hotel Goldener Hirsch is perfectly located in Old Town with lots of Austrian charm and views of the Fortress. Prices start at £290 per night.
Alternatively try The Pitter near Mirabell Palace. Though the decor is a bit dated, the hotel has rooms that accommodate four people – a rare find in Salzburg. Family room prices start at £121 per night.
How long? I’d recommend spending two nights in Salzburg before heading to one of the nearby ski resorts in the Austrian Alps.